To the Members of the Macalester Community,

A new set of announcements to the community follows below, but I wanted to include this more personal “preface.”

As you are all aware, the situation related to COVID-19 has continued to evolve rapidly in Minnesota and across the country.  Since I wrote to you last week, a number of important things have changed: there is now evidence of community transmission of the virus in Minnesota; the CDC has recommended that all gatherings of more than 50 people be cancelled for at least the next eight weeks (though technically businesses, schools, and colleges are exempt from this guidance); and Minnesota has closed, at least for a time, K-12 schools, making it more difficult for many of our employees to come to work.

It was our most profound hope to maintain at least some semblance of normalcy on campus while protecting those in the community who are most at risk from serious illness.  It is clear now, given the most recent events, that we simply do not have the capacity to do this while keeping students in residence halls and classrooms and other public buildings. We want both to keep the community safe and to deliver a Macalester education as effectively and equitably as we can under these circumstances.

We are therefore issuing the new set of requirements, outlined below. Please understand that pronouncements from public authorities could change some of what follows at any time.

I want you to know several things. We make none of these decisions easily or without a deep sense of sadness about what is, at this moment, necessary. We will do everything in our power to make it as easy as possible for students and their families to adapt to this new reality. We will not allow any student to be without food or a safe place to live. We will take care of our employees.

I want to reiterate what I said in my message of last week: for the vast majority of our students and the majority of our faculty and staff, COVID-19 poses a low risk of serious illness. Our goal, and the goal of sound public policy, is to do all we can to protect those who do fall into higher risk groups and to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. Steps we take now, though they involve personal sacrifice, can help others and can help us all get through this more quickly.

I continue to hope that I will have some opportunity over the coming weeks to say an appropriate thank you and farewell to the many students, staff, and faculty about whom I care so deeply. Meanwhile, please be assured that I will be here and available to all of you for the rest of the semester.

Be well.



Students, current parents, faculty, and staff:

Based on the changes described above, we will move all classes to remote learning beginning Monday, March 30. There will be no in-person classes for the remainder of the semester. Labs and studio facilities will be closed to students at that time.

We are requiring students to go home and stay home by March 30 for the remainder of the semester. Our goal is to have as many students as possible participate in remote learning from home. If you are currently at home and can stay at home, you should do so. Your belongings will remain safely in your room. We will share details in the future on when they can be accessed.

Students with extenuating circumstances who cannot go home may petition to remain on campus by completing this document: On-Campus Housing Petition Form. If you have questions, please contact

What’s Open/Closed

As of Monday, March 30, essential services will be provided to support the small number of students and staff who must remain on campus. Most campus buildings will be closed to students. The Campus Center (including the dining hall), the Health & Wellness Center (by appointment), the upper level of the chapel, and the upper level of Kagin will be open.

For additional details on accessing the services of the Hamre Center for Health & Wellness, please visit

Guidance for Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff will provide remote instruction, but will retain access to their offices and lab spaces. The Provost will send additional details.

Managers will work with members of their staff to allow as many employees as possible to work remotely, with the goal of limiting the number of people on campus. Additional detail to staff will follow from supervisors and Employment Services.  Staff will continue to receive their normal pay through this semester and will not be asked to use sick or personal time if they feel it necessary to remain at home. They should fulfill their work responsibilities to the best of their ability; we will provide the support that we can to help make this remote working arrangement successful. We understand that some positions will require campus presence. Managers will work with their teams to ensure coverage of these important roles.


Unfortunately, given the most recent CDC guidance on events, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our traditional, in-person Commencement. We are exploring other ways to recognize and celebrate our graduating seniors and will share an update soon.

We will make decisions over the course of the next few days about which events for the next two months will be canceled, postponed, or conducted virtually.

As you can imagine, we are continuing to work through a wide range of questions, and we will continue to share updates on our COVID-19 webpage.

Brian Rosenberg, President
Macalester College

Published: March 16, 2020